Talking turkeys 2,880 birds fly into town

Doug Parker donates $38,000 worth of birds to area food banks

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Doug Parker, owner of Parker Toyota, helps Carolyn Shewfelt, the Community Action Partnership food bank program manager, load one of the 28 pallets of turkeys Tuesday he purchased for the food bank. Parker purchased 2,880 turkeys to help provide dinners for those in need this holiday season.

COEUR d'ALENE - If you've ever wondered what 2,880 turkeys looks like, it looks like a warehouse full of turkeys.

If you ever wondered if it's easy to find that many birds to give away in the first place, it isn't.

But Doug Parker, owner of Parker Toyota, managed to locate that many birds in Arkansas, and on Monday the semi needed to haul that kind of cargo pulled up in Coeur d'Alene just in time for plenty of Christmas dinners across the five northern counties.

"The idea of someone not having a Christmas meal stimulated my thinking, I guess you'd say," Parker said. "It didn't seem right."

Parker's donation - $38,000 worth of gobble-gobble and the most the Community Action Partnership Kootenai County Food Bank can remember - was actually meant for Thanksgiving.

But locating that kind of loot took longer than originally thought, and before anyone knew it November was gone. Holidays go, and holidays come, and an undeterred Parker kept searching, eventually finding enough through the help of Costco representatives in time for Dec. 25.

"I was like pinching myself," said Carolyn Shewfelt, food bank manager, who got word of the donation last week and was on hand Monday to see the semi arrive. "I'm all worked up. This is great. I mean, that is a huge, huge, generous statement."

The need is there. In 2008, the food bank served 825 turkey baskets for Thanksgiving. This year, it gave out 2,617, an "eye opening" amount, Parker said.

"I read about their plight," Parker said of the food bank keeping up with the demand. "They told me they would have no trouble at all getting a hold of the people who need them."

Shewfelt said everyone who's signed up through the food bank should get served a bird this year because of the donation.

So where do you keep 2,880 turkeys in the meantime?

A warehouse. Costco is holding the bounty. The CAP food bank will pick up the bounty piece by piece as space there allows, and the 18 food banks in the five northern counties will pick them up from there.

"It's hard to find 2,800 turkeys by the way," said Parker, who donates to an organization at least every year, but usually anonymously. "It's a lot of birds."

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